This post is my contribution to Bloggers Unite For Human Rights.
As an Australian I can openly express my political views on this blog, on a chat room or in an email without fear of persecution. It is not the same in every country.
The following three excerpts are taken from the Anmensty International Website and detail the current state of Internet censorship in China:
The Great Firewall
That’s Internet censorship, China’s ‘Golden Shield Project’. The Government is watching you.
Behind what has been dubbed the ‘Great Firewall of China’ citizens can be imprisoned for sending emails, posting blogs or passing on information deemed to be sensitive, a threat to national sovereignty or a state secret.
In China the Internet has become a new frontier in the fight for human rights.
Thousands of Internet police
China has reportedly employed between 30,000 and 50,000 special Internet police who, with the aid of Western-provided technology, read private emails, conduct surveillance, remove blogs and block banned websites.
On screen, Internet users looking at China’s most popular websites will see a cartoon cyber-police officer appear every half hour. The cartoon officer reminds them not to view censored material.
There is no list of what is censored or what authorities are looking for â€“ it’s kept deliberately vague and is constantly updated â€“ this instills fear and uncertainty in Internet surfers in the hope that, on top of all the other controls, they will censor themselves.
China is helped by the Internet companies â€“ global giants Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft, and Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Baidu â€“ who have signed a pledge with the Government, the contents of which have not been made public.
The pledge allows the companies to operate in China, but only under conditions that involve censorship of their users.
What can you do?
Head to Uncensor and keep up to date with the current Internet censorship in China.
If you are in Australia, you can help to Tear down the Great Firewall of China. Volunteers are needed to tear down 20,000 bricks in 90 days, which is a peaceful protest in the lead up to the Beijing Olympic Games.
Each brick of the wall holds an action aimed at the Internet companies who enable censorship in China, such as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, Sohu and Baidu, the action cards call on them, to stop assisting human rights violations.
Click here to see when the wall will be in your part of Australia.
For those of you outside Australia, you can take online action to support Shi Tao. Shi Tao is a journalist who is serving a ten-year prison sentence for sending an email to the U.S. Yahoo! provided information to the Chinese Government, which led to his unjust imprisonment.
So if you write on your blog today, read a blog or send an email without fear, then do something for those who do not have the same rights as us.